Dutch PM "not hopeful" that lockdown will be relaxed on January 19
Prime Minister Mark Rutte is "not very hopeful" that coronavirus restrictions in the Netherlands will ease after January 19, the date on which the current lockdown is set to end, he said in a parliamentary debate on Tuesday. He stressed that he is waiting for a report from the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) before he makes any decisions, NU.nl reports.
The OMT is currently considering whether shops and schools can open again, taking things into account like the consequences of the British variant of the coronavirus which is much more contagious. The new B117 variant also seems to affect children more often than the variant active in the Netherlands. The experts therefore called for testing policy to be adjusted, so that children under the age of 12 are also tested when they have symptoms.
Minister Hugo de Jonge of Public Health adopted the advice to also test children. And at the request of the OMT, the government is also considering additional measures at schools, aimed at social distancing, reducing travel, and the way of teaching, Rutte said. He called reopening schools a "priority", but can't promise that this will happen on January 18.
The OMT is expected to publish its advice early next week, after which the government will make a decision on the lockdown on January 12.
"The corona figures are still very high at the moment," Rutte said. "You also see in neighboring countries, such as Germany, that the lockdown is being extended. England is entering a new lockdown. We really are not there yet."